Gossypium

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Gossypium is a genus of 39-40 species of shrubs in the mallow family, Malvaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of both the Old World and the New World. The cotton plants, sources of commercial cotton fabric, are included in this genus.

Cotton shrubs can grow up to 3.0 m (9.8 ft) high. The leaves are broad and lobed, with three to five (or rarely seven) lobes. The seeds are contained in a capsule called a boll, each seed surrounded by fibres of two types. These fibres are the more commercially interesting part of the plant and they are removed by a process called ginning. At the first ginning the longer fibres, called staples, are removed and these are twisted together to form yarn for making thread and weaving into high quality textiles. At the second ginning the shorter fibres, called linters, are removed, and these are woven into lower quality textiles (which include the eponymous lint).

Commercial species of cotton plant are G. hirsutum (90% of world production), G. barbadense (8%), G. arboreum and G. herbaceum (together, 2%). While cotton fibres occur naturally in colours of white, brown, and green, fears of contaminating the genetics of white cotton has led many cotton-growing locations to ban growing of coloured cotton varieties.

Contents

Species of Gossypium

Commercial cotton fibres, used to manufacture cloth, are derived from the fruit of the cotton plant. The following species are grown commercially:

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